The fairytale start to life for Lionel Messi in America has continued to provide roses as he has guided Inter Miami to the final of the U.S Open Cup.
Cincinnati had initially cruised into a 2-0 lead, scoring in the 18th and 53rd minute, and it appeared like it was doomsday for Tata Martino’s side.
However, Leonardo Campana netted in the 68th minute to halve the deficit, before Josef Martinez scored the leveller in the 93rd minute.
Inter Miami also went ahead in the 7th minute of additional time, before Yuya Kubo scored for Cincinnati to drag the game to penalties.
The Herons afterward came out victorious on penalty, defeating FC Cincinnati by 5-4, with Messi also scoring in the shoot-out.
Inter Miami haven’t lost any game since Lionel Messi joined the club
The 7-time Ballon d’Or winner is yet to taste defeat since arriving in America, winning 5 games and drawing 3.
Lionel Messi led Inter Miami to the Leagues Cup title on Sunday, August 20, 2023 and he is now set for another opportunity at glory.
The 36-year-old has scored 10 goals and provided 3 assists in 8 appearances for Inter Miami across all competitions.
He left Paris Saint Germain at the end of the 2022/23 season, and snubbed Al Hilal for football in America.
Lionel Messi has shown his leadership instinct with his teammates and that has seen Inter Miami come out victorious in two shoot-outs back-to-back.
Despite the seeming language barrier, the former Barcelona man has been able to galvanize his side to success.
He has also been accompanied by Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets, who also played alongside him at Barcelona.
Tata Martino lauds Messi’s leadership qualities
Inter Miami manager Tata Martino has also had his say on Lionel Messi’s leadership qualities, saying that the Argentine is a “leader on the pitch”.
He said: “He’s a leader on the pitch and with the group he´s shown it for a long time, not only here with Miami but also with Argentina.”
Martino also added that Messi makes football look easy with his brilliance on the field of play.
Tata Martino said: “Luckily, players get behind his leadership and enthusiasm in his response for every moment, no matter the circumstances, and today he showed it more as a conductor than a finisher, and you saw that with the pass late in the match but he makes difficult plays look easy.”
Meanwhile, the Twitter handle of the MLS, after the expiration of the encounter, put out a sarcastic tweet, stating:
“can the script writers take the day off for one night? admin is emotionally exhausted.”
Following Lionel Messi’s arrival to the league, some of the Argentine detractors have expressed that the “MLS is scripted”.
This is due to the seeming ease at which he scores his goals and also eschews his magic.
Messi is set to make his Major League Soccer debut on Sunday, August 27, 2023, in an encounter against New York Red Bulls.